Help me with my i7 Gaming Rig Build


Junior Member
Mar 19, 2014
Hi All -

I'm anticipating XP's End of Life next month on my i7-920 dual-SLI rig, and could use your help with a new build. The PC is used for everything, but the performance-intensive tasks are 1) video ripping and conversion, and 2) solo gaming on a 1080p monitor. I have probably three dozen game titles installed including very heavily-modded Fallout 3, New Vegas, Oblivion and Skyrim, and I want to have some degree of future-proofing for new games. I don't think I could have picked two hobbies that conflict more when it comes to CPU/GPU demands, but there it is.
I'll be cannibalizing whatever I can from the old rig. My budget permits as much as $2500 USD, but I'm working hard to keep it at $2K.
It appears that most of Haswell's 22nm of real estate is allocated to a crossover into mobile platforms rather than on-board graphics or computational firepower, so I'm operating on the assumption that this may well be my last desktop build. I hope to get 3-5 years of use out of this drive-train.
So far, these are some of the components I've researched. Can you help with advice?

I'm using the Haswell i7-4770k as my benchmark for this build but have had server processors in previous workstations, and love them, so I'm paying close attention to Xeon; in addition, I've always bought over-clockable components, but I've never actually performed an overclock, so the 'K' suffix isn't really essential to this build.

LGA 1150 - Haswell i7-4770k [FONT=Times New Roman, serif]@ 3.5 GHz - $340 USD[/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman, serif][/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman, serif]LGA 1150 – Haswell Denlow Xeon E3-1270 v3 or E3-1275 v3 @ 3.5 GHz - $350 USD[/FONT]
LGA 2011 – Ivy Bridge-EP X[FONT=Times New Roman, serif]eon [/FONT][FONT=Times New Roman, serif]E5-1620 v2 @ 3.7 GHz - $310 USD[/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman, serif][/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman, serif]LGA 2011 – Ivy Bridge-E i7-4820k @ 3.7 GHz - $325 USD[/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman, serif][/FONT]

[FONT=Times New Roman, serif]MAINBOARD[/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman, serif]I've done no real research into the LGA 2011 boards yet; it's all Z87 at this point. I've used ASUS boards with no complaint on my last few builds, but have Gigabyte, MSI and ECS on my list. I couldn't bring myself to include ASRock products in my final break-down – NewEgg reviews are brutal![/FONT]
Specific MB features?
AUDIO: Not an issue; I'll throw a board in later.
WIFI & Bluetooth: I'd prefer none; Better to upgrade via PCIx rather than be dependent upon MB chips.
PCIE3 LANES: I honestly think I'll just use one good GPU this time instead of fiddling with SLI. Right?
NIC: Some of these Gigabyte & MSI products are using the Qualcomm E2200-Series 'Killer' NIC chips on their boards – an itch in the back of my head tells me that this driver's traffic-shaping ambitions are more trouble than they are worth. I really want an out-of-the-box network solution. I do a lot of file-sharing, but absolutely no on-line gaming. Your thoughts?
HDMI & DISPLAY-PORT: These are future-proofing features for me; when this PC reaches End-of-Life as my gaming rig, it would become an HTPC – it looks like HDMI v2 and D-PORT could be vital.
Can I use one monitor passing-through 4k video from the CPU and one monitor using the PCI16 GPU card. Will the BIOS permit both inputs?
I'm also seeing 'Lucid Virtu MVP2' on the MSI boards promising cooperation between the on-chip GPU and the PCI GPU – I'm not prepared to accept this at face value - comment please!
[FONT=Times New Roman, serif]Looking at:[/FONT]

[FONT=Times New Roman, serif]ASUS Z87-Pro (V-Edition) - $195 USD[/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman, serif]ECS Z87H3-A4 (1.0) - $80 USD[/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman, serif][/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman, serif]ASUS Maximus VI Hero - $200 USD[/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman, serif][/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman, serif]MSI Z87-GD65 Gaming - $190 USD[/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman, serif][/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman, serif]ASUS Sabertooth Z87 - $240 USD[/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman, serif][/FONT]
Gigabyte G1.Sniper Z87 - $165 USD
ECS L337 Gaming Z87H3-A3X Gank Drone (v1.0) - $95 USD

I think I will stick with DDR3-1600 memory here. I can't discern whether the Xeon platform permits memory overclocking; ARK just lists 1600 as top-speed, and the NewEgg reviews confuse me! Perhaps I can just load this initial build with 32GB of top-notch DDR-3 at spec, and upgrade later. All I really see at this point is that all of a sudden G.Skill is the boss. True that?
How about two sets of these?

G.SKILL Ripjaws X Series 16GB DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) F3-1600C9D-16GXM - $320 USD

I'm not well-informed about SSDs yet but will certainly be using one for the OS and game installations. My current PC takes exactly one zillion years to boot to desktop. It looks like my present system partition is using about 300GB; I would like to future-proof a bit here since it looks like games like Titanfall use as much as 45GB for a base install.
I'm presently using a partition on a second disk for my page file, and a partition on the main disk for scratch files. I guess I'm looking at two discrete SSDs for these functions, 128GB for scratch, and 64GB for page file. It's been a while since I've done this math, so please give me your advice. If I go with the Z87 platform, and I'm sure I will, I will have 32GB of memory on-board.
Having been so long on 20th-Century XP, I'm accustomed to using mechanical drives for my data storage. Is it going to be okay for me to move my Data partition to a platter or hybrid drive, or will I be defeating the whole purpose of SSD boot?
I also don't use much of my present secondary mechanical hard drive, aside from swap; my music and video files are on bare drives I access through a caddy, so I am not even sure I need a platter drive in this rig. Comments?
That said, here are some of the solutions I'm considering:

Samsung 840 EVO 1TB - $480 USD
Crucial M500 960GB - $440 USD

Kingston V300 120GB - $75 USD

SanDisk ReadyCache SDSSDRC-032G-G26 32GB - $45 USD

2T, Seagate Barracuda ST2000DM001 2TB 7200 RPM 64MB - $90 USD
2T, Seagate Hybrid Drive ST2000DX001 2TB MLC/8GB 64MB - $120 USD
3TB, Western Digital Red NAS Hard Drive WD30EFRX 3TB IntelliPower 64MB - $135 USD
3TB, HGST Deskstar NAS H3IKNAS30003272SN(0S03660) 3TB 7200 RPM 64MB - $150 USD
3TB, Seagate Barracuda 7200.14 ST3000DM001 3TB 7200 RPM 64 - $110 USD
4TB, Seagate 4TB Barracuda 64 MB Cache – ST4000DM000 -$150 USD
4TB, WD Red WD40EFRX 4TB IntelliPower 64MB - $185 USD
4TB, WD Purple WD40PURX 4TB SATA - $190 USD – [Out of Stock]

I've been using a pair of EVGA GTX260s in SLI on my current PC, but I'm anxious to see heavily-modded Skyrim and Oblivion on a better set-up. I think maybe my money is better spent on one very good GPU, and I can abandon the dual-card set-up. True?
My shopping so far:

ASUS GTX780-DC20C-3GD5 GTX 780 3GB 384-bit GDDR5 - $520 USD
EVGA SuperClocked 03G-94-2783-KR GTX 780 3GB 384-bit GDDR5 - $530 USD

Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 64-bit OEM - $190 USD

I'm using a Prolimatech Megahalems CPU Cooler on my present i7, with lots of good fans in push-pull in an Antec 900 case, with no complaint; the system is operated at stock speeds, and SpeedFan shows 145F as I write this. I know that's high but I probably have several rabbits worth of dust and debris in the case. I haven't considered water-cooling until now, and haven't done much research yet, but would welcome your advice on the best inexpensive cooling solution for the new build.
I'm looking at:

AIR, a repeat of my existing Prolimatech Megahalems Rev C Intel - $60 USD
AIR, Prolimatech Pro- GNSS Genesis Universal - $72 USD
AIR, Noctua NH-U12S 120x120x25 (NF-F12 PWM) SSO2-Bearing - $70 USD
AIR, Noctua NH-U14S 140x150x25 (NF-A15 PWM) SSO2-Bearing - $76 USD
AIR, Noctua NH-D14 120mm & 140mm SSO - $86 USD
AIR, Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO 120mm PWM Fan - $35 USD
AIR, SilenX EFZ-120HA5 120mm Fluid Dynamic - $26 USD
WATER, Corsair Hydro Series H75 CW-9060015-WW Water/Liquid 120mm - $70 USD
WATER, Corsair Hydro Series H80i High Performance Water/Liquid 120mm - $90 USD

I'd like to use my existing Corsair TX750W in the new build; since I'm dropping down to one CPU, I hope this will be adequate. I think mine is probably revision 1, but here is a rev2 item -

I'd also like to use my existing Antec 900 case for the new system; mine was bought in 2011 so I'd be sacrificing USB3 on the front ports, but I can run a hub off the back ports – no biggie. Here is the upgraded version -

I don't want to upgrade this component yet either, but it is vanilla SATA. A dozen of my games still run off DVD – will I encounter a bus problem? I don't care about cinematics.
My device is the Pioneer 12X SATA Blu-ray Burner BDR-206BKS

Thanks very much for looking at this very long post. I look forward to hearing all your good advice.


Platinum Member
Jun 21, 2005
I have a Corsair TX 750 v1 in one of my builds. It has no trouble keeping up with new hardware. I've got an OCed 7970 in there. So you should have no problems running a single GTX 780 with it.

Any reason why you need Windows 7 Ultimate? To me, it seems like a waste of almost 100 bucks. Also, have you considered windows 8.1 instead?

Your DVD drive is 16x read speed which is 177Mbit/s or roughly 22MB/s which Most new drives are 18x. Maximum is 24x read speed. You probably won't notice a difference if you upgraded to a faster read speed drive. Your current drive is fine for vanilla SATA interface which is 1500Mbit/s or 1.5Gbit/s or 150MB/s maximum speed.

As far as your current storage drive fiasco is concerned have you considered Intel SRT? Basically you use a HDD for everything and a small SSD (up to 64GB) as a cache drive. Basically, launching an app for the first time is slightly faster than a HDD, but each consecutive time you launch it, it will launch almost as fast as having it on an SSD. Same goes for the OS and everything else. I really think there is better places to spend your $$$ than a 1TB SSD, but if that's what you want then go for it. I'd at least give SRT a try and upgrade to a 1TB SSD in a year or so when the price halves.

If you're going with an SSD with your rig, there is no point in getting a Hybrid HDD. It's basically a waste of $$$ and a hybrid HDD is pretty pointless for desktops. There are much better alternative solutions since you are not confined in space or connectivity like you are with smaller builds or laptops.

I really don't think you need to spend $100 on a CPU cooler if you aren't even planning to overclock. However, I would still recommend spending an extra few bucks on a 4770k just in case you change your mind and decide to overclock in the future. With that said, I think the stock cooling will be sufficient for someone who is not planning to OC. It's a lot more cost effective and less hassle to upgrade to an aftermarket HSF than replace a 4770 with a 4770k.

For the mobo, I would recommend Gigabyte or MSI. I've used both, and had great experience with MSI customer service as well as their products. So far I am very pleased with my first Gigabyte motherboard but I have not had any experience with their customer support. I'm not a big fan of other motherboard manufacturers (except EVGA).


Nov 19, 2013
For a motherboard I would go with an ASUS board, probably the ASUS Maximus Hero. Awesome board, better than the sabertooth. 1600mhz is fine, you don't need any faster memory. If you really do want an air cooler I couldn't reccomend the Noctua NH-D14 more, it's a truly awesome cooler very capable. Windows 8.1 isn't nearly as bad as everyone makes it out to be I quite like it.


Dec 3, 2013
For a motherboard I would go with an ASUS board, probably the ASUS Maximus Hero. Awesome board, better than the sabertooth. 1600mhz is fine, you don't need any faster memory. If you really do want an air cooler I couldn't reccomend the Noctua NH-D14 more, it's a truly awesome cooler very capable. Windows 8.1 isn't nearly as bad as everyone makes it out to be I quite like it.

The 750 PSU should be more than enough, a good 550 would probably handle that.
Last edited:


Elite Member
Jan 17, 2010
Discounting solid boards like ASRock and then including pure junk like ECS isn't a good idea IMHO. There are plenty of good boards from ASRock, Gigabyte, and MSI. ASUS boards are good as well, but they're usually overpriced (gotta pay for that marketing somehow).

I think your storage system is also really over-engineered and betrays that you're stuck in an HDD mindset. A single SSD is fast enough for the tasks that you want to split up into multiple drives.

What it's not fast enough for is a 64GB page file; a page file that big is just plain crazy. If you're swapping heavily enough to need even a 4GB page file, then your performance is going to be so terrible that there's no point in continuing that workload. Doesn't matter if swap is on HDD or SSD, they're both over 20 times slower than memory.

So with that in mind:

Xeon E3-1230 V3 $250 - no point in paying through the nose for an extra 300MHz
ASRock H87 Performance $100 - no point in buying an overly-expensive tweakers' board for a non-overclocking machine
Crucial Ballistix Sport DDR3 1600 16GB x2 $270
MSI GTX 780 $500
Samsung 840 EVO 1TB $390
Seagate 7200RPM 3TB $110
Reuse ODD $0
Antec TP-650C $100 - A power supply as old as an i7 920 + GTX 260 system will have quite a bit of age on its caps. You're not scraping by on a budget, so I'd replace it
Reuse Case $0
Noctua U12S $70
Windows 7 Pro $140
Total: $1930


Platinum Member
Jun 21, 2005
1TB evo is $470 on newegg, 750GB Evo is $390.

I still don't see a point in wasting $$$ in a high end HSF for a non-OC build.


Junior Member
Mar 19, 2014
Sploosh! I knew I posted in the right place! (Actually, I didn't, I had to be re-directed here), but nonetheless, this is the right place for geniuses.

Thanks again for following this thread, and for all the great detailed info; glad to keep the PSU I have now, but it is c2011, so an upgrade will be in the future. I hate un-sticking things like processors from their fans, or having to re-lap CPUS and NB chips, or risking OS re-validation because my base hardware has changed too much for MS's liking, but upgrading a PSU on a stable build is NP for me!:D
I appreciate the 8.1 advice too; I know I can save money - I need to just get over my W8 bigotry. I'll try to be a better person.
And the BD bus analysis is epic; thanks a million for the breakdown. It helps me keep my initial costs in-line.

Thanks for the PSU thumbs-up, I'll freshen'-up those capacitors once my build is stable. Thanks for following the thread, and I hope you'll continue to give me advice.

I appreciate the ASUS bump, 'cause I like them, and the memory advice helps me out more than you know. 1600? Yes. OK. And the Noctua advice is valuable, good to meet a user. Y'all are beating me down with the W8 recommendations - perhaps because I am obstinate (i.e. dumb). Must reconsider.:eek:

Besos, my Bra. Much to consider in your comment, and thank you for it. I'm not sure why I got down on ASRock, so thank you for calling BS on that, and good to know I can discard ECS products from the mix. Too many choices! (First-world problem) I'm just beginning to see the community's point about my HD 'fiasco', LOL, and also some sense to buying a little'r one to start. I've got my Macrium Reflect paid-up, so cloning down the line should not be a giant problem, but I do worry about substantial platform changes down the road, not just about MS but about many of the games I've paid GD retail for, with install-limits. I really want to try to get it right the first time. Please keep looking at this thread for me, you guys are the kind of experts I need. Thanks.